THE PUNJAB and Haryana High Court on Monday next week will hold 10 benches, including two division benches, for hearing of the urgent cases over video conferencing. With the court easing the norms for listing of cases, it has also now issued a standard operating procedure for advocates or litigants appearing before the benches remotely and asked them not to record or broadcast the proceedings.
“During hearing through video conferencing, the parties may kindly help in mind that they are participating in court proceedings, and hence it is expected that they would not resort to any indecorous conduct or dress or comment; further, parties are required to ensure that the proceedings by video conference are neither recorded/stored nor broadcast, in any manner whatsoever, as recording/copying/storing and/or broadcasting, by any means, of the hearings and proceedings before the court are expressly prohibited,” the Registrar (Computerization), Sudeep Goel, said in the SOP.
The court earlier had only been hearing only extremely urgent cases and in the past few days has started hearing urgent cases like anticipatory bails. However, the cases continue to be cleared for hearing only after a request is sent through a form on a website, mentioning the urgency of the case.
The chairman of the HC e-committee, Justice Ajay Tiwari, during a webinar on Thursday said the court has been able to develop technological capacity for functioning of 15 courts. The Bar Council earlier had requested the High Court to start hearing more cases. The number of functional benches has increased gradually with easing of restrictions in Punjab, Haryana and particularly Chandigarh and is being increased depending upon the number of cases approved for listing after mentioning, officials said.
A senior officer of the HC said some of the judges have started hearing matters from HC itself since easing of the lockdown even as the lawyers continue to attend the proceedings remotely, in accordance with the existing guidelines. However, a majority of the judges are hearing cases from residence only with the aide of technology to maintain physical distancing norms.
“The uploading of the orders takes place from the HC itself since the software cannot be accessed remotely but the filing of cases is allowed online. These are testing times and the High Court is normally a place of mass gathering. We are having a bare minimum staff at the HC in accordance with the MHA guidelines and many are working from homes only. It is all need-based like computer and listing branches have more staff requirement and others have less,” the officer said.
In case of any problems over video conferencing, the cases can also be heard through audio conferencing after permission from the bench as per the guidelines. The lawyers have been asked to remain on mute and make submissions only when instructed by the bench. The lawyers can also raise their hand to indicate their request for submission.
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